Baked Tilapia with Roasted Asparagus and Potatoes (Gluten-Free with Dairy-Free Version)

We don’t eat a lot of fish in our house, but now that we’ve finally found a tilapia recipe that we really like, we’ll be eating it regularly for dinner. I would say, “It will become part of our dinner rotation,” which seems to be a popular phrase among food bloggers, but we don’t actually have a dinner rotation. We make new stuff every week. Some are keepers, some are losers, but we hardly have any dishes that we make on a regular basis. When you’re on a GF/DF diet, you have to be creative and keep things interesting!

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We’re always looking for new, easy twists on vegetables, too. These roasted red potatoes with asparagus are so easy and simple, it’s stupid, but I never thought of putting them together! You can obviously serve whatever side you prefer with the baked tilapia, but I think this side compliments the fish perfectly.

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 Lean protein with a rich, simple sauce, a tasty combination of vegetables, and all of it done in under an hour—what’s not to love?! Enjoy, everyone!

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Baked Tilapia

4 tilapia filets

3 tbsp butter or Earth Balance (dairy-free), melted

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 ½ tsp garlic powder

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp non-pareil capers, drained

Dried oregano, to taste

Paprika, to taste

Place tilapia filets in an ungreased 13×9 baking dish. In a small bowl, combine butter/Earth Balance, lemon juice, garlic powder, and salt. Pour butter combination over fish. Sprinkle with capers, oregano, and paprika.

Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 10-15 minutes.

Adapted from Taste of Home. http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/baked-tilapia 

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Roasted Asparagus and Potatoes

1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed

2-4 tbsp olive oil

8 small to medium-sized red potatoes, cubed

½ tsp garlic salt

¼ tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Place in a medium-sized bowl with olive oil, potatoes, garlic salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Pour the mixture into an 8×8 or 13×9 baking dish, and bake for 35-60 minutes, or until the potatoes are “fork tender”.

Adapted from The Gluten-Free Table by Jilly Lagasse and Jessie Lagasse Swanson. Grand Central Publishing, 2012.

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I would’ve liked to get a nice, pretty shot of the tilapia and the veggies together, served up on a plate, ready to be eaten (you know how the good food bloggers do it), but the thing is, the fish was done before the veggies, and we couldn’t wait for the veggies or stop eating the fish in order to get that shot. That’s how good the tilapia is!

Gluten, Dairy, and Sugar-Free Thanksgiving Roundup

This is my first Thanksgiving on a gluten, dairy, and sugar-free diet, and it just so happens that all of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes contain bread, flour, cheese, milk, cream, and lots of wonderful refined sugar. Because I’m a little obsessed with food, I started panicking when my doctor recommended (nay, prescribed) this diet as a treatment plan for my fibromyalgia, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, migraines, etc. etc. back in August. I was already thinking about the holidays. I love to cook and share food with others…what the heck was I going to cook that tasted good now?

Since I started this lifestyle change, I research and try new recipes every week. The plan was to try all of these recipes in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, but we’re already three weeks out, so hopefully I can at least try several before I serve them up on the big day.

The main dish of our Thanksgiving feast is, of course, the turkey–but not just any dry, bland turkey. Before I tried this turkey, I didn’t even care about having turkey on Thanksgiving. My brother-in-law is an award winning meat smoker, and he smokes the turkey on his Big Green Egg. This is serious business. He sleeps on the couch and sets alarms to get up during the night to check the turkey and do God knows what to make it taste the way it does. He serves it with an amazing white sauce, which I’m sure has cream or butter or some sort of dairy in it. I might regret it later, but I have to make an exception for this turkey. I’m a bad role model, I know. I don’t have the recipe for this. It’s a secret. I just had to tell you about it.

My grandma always insists on bringing several dishes, and this year, I have to make my own substitutes for all of them, or at least the ones that I feel like I just can’t go a Thanksgiving without. She offered to try to make diet-friendly versions of all them, bless her heart, but I’m not about to mess with the classics, especially when I’m the only one who abstains from gluten, dairy, and sugar. I do hope everyone will try at least a little bit of my alternative dishes, though, if only to see how much they taste like the originals!

One dish that my grandma always brings (and it’s the side dish I always look forward to the most) is oyster dressing. It seems pretty authentic to me–I mean, I’ve heard they probably ate oysters at the first Thanksgiving. As much as I enjoy them, I’m skipping the oysters, but I HAVE to have some dressing. Here are a couple of great recipes to choose from.

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Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Herbed Thanksgiving Stuffing from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
Classic Gluten-Free Stuffing
Classic Gluten-Free Stuffing from Whole Foods Market

In college, I went to my boyfriend’s family Thanksgiving in Michigan, and I was shocked to hear that his mom put sausage in their dressing (or stuffing, as they referred to it)…BLASPHEMY! Turned out to be some of the best dressing/stuffing I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. It also turns out that a lot of people put sausage in their dressing. HELLO.

Growing up, my grandma always provided the mashed potatoes, but my husband and I made them last year. This will probably be our regular dish; the one people just expect us to bring every year. It will probably take another five years, but it will catch on.

I find mashed potatoes really easy, and the options are endless…make them in the crockpot, mash them with your KitchenAid stand mixer or a hand mixer, leave them lumpy or make them creamy, add some garlic or bacon, use red potatoes and leave the skins on…endless, I say! I love gravy with my mashed potatoes, but we’re garlic people in my family. I have tried the first recipe with double the garlic, and we loved it. No need for gravy when there’s this much flavor packed in already. If you’re cutting back on grains/carbs, you might try a mashed cauliflower version.

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Creamy Garlic Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes from Brooklyn Farm Girl
Healthy Garlic and Herb Smashed Potatoes
Healthy Garlic and Herb Smashed Potatoes from Linda Wagner

My grandma also brings homemade chicken and noodles. I haven’t decided yet whether I want to make a substitute or take her up on her offer to attempt GF noodles. Either way, since we are also hosting, I just don’t think I’ll have time to make noodles, but I’ve considered a GF, vegan mac & “cheese”. This is definitely one I just have to try for myself before I serve it up on Thanksgiving! I’m leaning towards the mac & squash, to keep with the holiday spirit. My vegetarian cousin is coming this year from Miami, so this would help add some variety for her and ensure that she gets a hearty main dish. Obviously, I would have to substitute gluten-free mac in all of these recipes, but that’s no problem. I use them all the time. They are easy to find, boxed and ready to go, and just as delicious as your original macaroni.

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5 Killer Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipes from One Green Planet

 I have to admit, I’ve never tried cranberry sauce in my life. We’ve never had cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, that I can remember, and I’ve never tried it at any other Thanksgiving dinners at which I’ve been a guest, either, because it retained the shape of the can from whence it came, and that just didn’t seem right to me. However, I might go for it this year. I like cranberries, and it couldn’t hurt to have this healthy version of cranberry sauce.

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Sugarless Cranberry Sauce from Wellness Mama

Rolls. You have to have rolls. Since she works there, my uncle’s girlfriend has brought rolls from Bob Evans to several of our past Thanksgiving feasts. HELLO! Now, I’ve made all kinds of quick breads and yeast-free breads in my day, but I’ve never tried rolls. I’m a little bit intimidated by the rising process and all that business. I’m hoping to make this GF version of Hawaiian sweet rolls, which is what we usually had at our Thanksgivings growing up (straight out the orange King’s Hawaiian bag), but if I run out of time, I’m hoping Whole Foods will have some GF rolls in the bakery. I just have to be careful with reading the labels and making sure they are also dairy and sugar-free.

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Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls from Averie Cooks. The original recipe is not GF/DF/SF, but using the conversion charts below can help make these rolls easier on the tummy (no pun intended…well, maybe)! You would also want to replace the flour with your favorite GF all-purpose flour.
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Source: He and She Eat Clean. As far as the butter swap, I would also say that Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread is a great sub (1:1). You can find it with or without soy. I would also replace “Stevia” on this chart with “Truvia”, which, according to my research, makes up for the lost bulk of the sugar. See the chart below for more about sugar replacements, and visit http://truvia.com/recipes/conversion_chart for more on swapping Truvia.
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Source: Swanson Health Blog

We may just go for green beans with olive oil, onion, and maybe a little bit of bacon or tomatoes, but if there’s time, I’d love to try a DF version of green bean casserole, another one of my all time favorites. Here’s a great recipe for DF cream of mushroom soup, which you can use in your favorite green bean casserole recipe, or if you don’t have one, you can follow the recipe below! In any case, I would make sure your milk substitute is unsweetened.

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Dairy-Free Cream of Mushroom Soup from Go Dairy Free/Kelie Escobar
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Healthy Green Bean Casserole from Wellness Mama. I would sub Earth Balance for the butter, but you do whatever your diet allows! Note that when she refers to coconut milk as a sub for heavy cream, she is referring to full-fat, canned coconut milk.

Not very many people are big on sweet potatoes in my family, but they are so good for you. This recipe gives you the flavors of your favorite sweet potato casserole, but without all the crazy stuff that basically turns a healthy vegetable into candy. Since we’re already serving mashed potatoes, we’ll probably skip the sweet potatoes again this year, but maybe I’ll make these to have as a side dish with leftover turkey.

Let’s talk about desserts. Last year, my brother brought a caramel apple pie and…get ready for this…a red velvet cake pie. That’s a real thing. My uncle’s girlfriend always makes a Better Than Anything cake, which you may also know by another name that makes everyone uncomfortable, or you may call it Butterfinger chocolate poke cake. Google it or look it up on Pinterest, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I know pie is kind of a must-have, but I’m going to leave the pie to the gluten, dairy, and sugar eaters. There are all kinds of GF pie crust recipes out there, but I need something that takes a little less time to make, requires fewer ingredients, and contains CHOCOLATE. This recipe is the one I’m going with. It’s perfect because it is simple, simple, simple.

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Healthier Flourless Chocolate Cake from The Detoxinista

Thanksgiving isn’t just about food, of course; it’s about spending time with those you love. It’s a time to share. It’s a time to reflect and be grateful. The joy and spirit of Christmas are in the air, but the rush hasn’t quite started. You can still keep your fall decorations out, yet look forward to getting your Christmas tree set up that weekend! You can go out with your visiting family and start your Christmas shopping the next day…the NEXT day. But just for Thanksgiving Day, all of that can wait. The anticipation is there, yet there is a peace on Thanksgiving of just living in and enjoying the moment. For all these reasons, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Fresh Spinach, Tomato, and (Gluten-free) Gnocchi Soup

It’s officially soup season, but we couldn’t wait that long to make this soup-er (see what I did there?) SIMPLE soup, especially when we had fresh ingredients from the garden to use!

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We made this soup back in September, when I’m pretty sure the weather was still in the 80s, but as soon as my birthday (which almost always falls on or near Labor Day) is over, it’s fall to me!

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I began a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free (and all junk-in-general-free) diet a couple of months ago, at the advice of my doctor. I have fibromyalgia, and she believed that changing my diet would have a huge impact on my health. After I started this lifestyle change, I also received blood test results that reflected a myriad of other health issues, including insulin resistance and high cholesterol—even more reasons to persevere in making this a true lifestyle change, not simply a temporary diet. I’m now off my fibro meds, and I’ve lost sixteen pounds (thirty of which were packed on by the meds). I won’t claim that my fibro is cured, but I feel just the same as I did on my medicines—perhaps better because I don’t have all the side effects. I am on way too many medications for being twenty-six years old, but because of this lifestyle change, a lot of the things that were causing me to need these meds are being reversed. I’m really hopeful for the first time in a month of Sundays (yes, I did just use that phrase) in regards to my health being restored, and so much of it is thanks to good ole fashioned, organic, “clean eating” (and I use parentheses because I’m not perfect at this, but I’m on the journey). It seems like hippy talk, I know, but I’m living proof that it makes a real difference!

I’ll be honest: eating well in this day and age takes a lot of work. I’ve done a lot of researching, experimenting, and spent long hours at the grocery store reading labels. Most of the food I love most in this world is packed with stuff that makes my body swell, my gut leak, and would eventually cause my heart to stop beating. I really thought I would find no joy in food for the rest of my life. Two things I’ve found: 1) my joy is not in food, ‘tis in Jesus, and the fact that I found so much joy in crappy food is kind of sad. 2) I can make and eat food that tastes good and actually nourishes my body. This recipe also proves that healthy food can be just as easy to make as the other junk.

A lot of the soups I used to make were creamy…so what do you think they had in them? That’s right, folks: cheese, cream, milk, cream-of-something canned soups, cream cheese, etc. I have yet to try a creamy soup with nondairy substitutions (I read that it’s possible), but for now I’m trying to make soups packed with veggies and fresh ingredients.

I was both pumped and bummed when I found this recipe, mostly over the cheese tortellini. There are certainly plenty of gluten-free pastas out there, but how could I swing a substitute for CHEESE TORTELLINI?! So delicious…so bad for my stomach (did I mention I also found out I have a dairy sensitivity? Of all the things in the world to not be able to eat…why, God? Wait, remember what you just said about not finding your joy in food.). I hit the frozen pasta aisle at Whole Foods (yes, packaged food…I never said I was perfect, and no, I don’t do all my shopping at Whole Foods. I love it, but let’s be real–our budget doesn’t allow it) and found a substitute to match the texture and deliciousness of tortellini—potato gnocchi!

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With all my ingredients gathered from the store and the garden, ‘twas time for Tony and me to get to work.

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We had never blanched tomatoes, but it was really simple! If you’re cool with canned foods and want to save time, you could use a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, instead.

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When we make this soup again, it will look a lot fuller. We loved it, but we really love all the vegetables in this recipe, so we need it to be overflowing with basil, spinach, and tomatoes! I adjusted the recipe accordingly, but if you’d like a soup with a milder taste, I would follow the original recipe.

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If you can eat your soup topped with some fresh shredded or shaved Parmesan, by all means, I say do it. If you’re in the nondairy boat with me, don’t worry—this is one where you won’t miss or need the cheese in order for it to have great flavor!

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We enjoyed this on the couch while watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, rented from the library. We had the urge to watch all the movies again in sequence, but of course, someone never returned Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, so we had to start with Chamber of Secrets. First world problems. Don’t mind the broken blinds in the background. That’s my next project—drop cloth curtains for that window. Stay tuned.

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 Fresh Spinach, Tomato, and Gnocchi Soup

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 20 min

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

12 medium Roma tomatoes

1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)

6 cloves garlic (more or less to taste…we like more!)

8-10 cups chicken broth (I suggest the boxed, organic, free range stuff!)

2 cups water, optional (If you go with 8 cups of chicken broth and you like a milder broth, add the water. Otherwise, use 10 cups of chicken broth and omit the water.)

1 (12 oz.) package gluten-free potato gnocchi

12 oz. fresh spinach, chopped

6 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese for topping, optional

Directions

Heat a pot of water to a boil and fill a medium mixing bowl with ice water. Once water in pot boils, carefully drop tomatoes into water and boil until skins burst, about 3-4 minutes. If a few of them are having trouble bursting, you can remove them from the water and cut an “X” in the bottom of the tomatoes, then return to water for about another minute until skins slightly pull alway. Remove from boiling water and transfer to ice bath, cool slightly, then peel, seed and dice into bite size pieces. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour in chicken broth (and water, if using), then increase temperature to moderately high heat and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, add gnocchi, season with salt and pepper, and boil as directed on package.

Stir in tomatoes, spinach, and basil, and cook until heated through and spinach wilts. Serve warm, topped with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Adapted from Cooking Classy